As expected, Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss his sixth consecutive game after suffering a sprained ankle against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Toronto was able to overcome the loss of its starting center against the Heat, primarily due to the play of backup Bismack Biyombo.
Unfortunately, that was nowhere near the case in Cleveland’s Game 1 blowout win over the Raptors.
Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) will miss Game 2. With Valanciunas out, the Cavaliers were 25-of-30 shooting inside the restricted area in Game 1.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 19, 2016
This tells us a story of a Raptors team that was unable to do anything of substance from a defensive standpoint in the low post.
Valanciunas’ absence in Game 1 was felt in a big way, even more than that 25-of-30 shooting mark would indicate. It means that the Cavaliers shot just 36 percent outside of the restricted area.
For his part, Lebron James finished Game 1 shooting an absurd 11-of-13 from the field. Every single one of his made field goals were in the restricted area.
Unless someone else steps up in Valanciunas’ stead, it’s going to be extremely hard for Toronto to get back in the series.
That’s going to have to come from Biyombo, who grabbed just four rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Despite shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field in Game 1, his presence simply wasn’t felt on the low-post defensively.